Alex Rodriguez looked into the Yankees' dugout as he ran up the first-base line after hitting the go-ahead home run in yesterday's 4-2 win over the Mariners.
A-Rod was puzzled. He wondered why his teammates had not leaped over the dugout railing in celebration.
Rodriguez raised his arm after he crossed first base, sure that he had just hit a walk-off home run and that a mob of Yankees was going to greet him at home plate.
Reality set in at some point during that trip around the bases. A-Rod realized he had hit an eighth-inning home run, not a ninth-inning one. He had given his team the lead, but the game still had five outs to go before the Yankees could claim a much-needed win.
"I thought I hit a much bigger home run than I actually did," Rodriguez said after his two-run homer to right off a high fastball from Seattle's David Aardsma broke a 2-2 tie. "I hit it and I looked at A.J. [Burnett] and [Andy] Pettitte and they weren't jumping over the railing. At that point, I felt like we probably had one more half-inning to play. So it was pretty embarrassing."
A question about that led A-Rod, who was the DH yesterday, to his second comical blunder of the afternoon.
"We ran into a wave of great pitching here on Friday and Saturday," he said. "Friday and Saturday, right? The last two nights. And today's Thursday."
Oh, that A-Rod. What a lovable scamp.
Rodriguez's 12th home run of the season also was his 250th as a Yankee and 595th of his career. He has gone deep four times in his last eight games. Given that the Yankee Stadium scoreboard displays his career home run total every time he hits one there, A-Rod is well aware he is closing in on No. 600.
"I will embrace it," he said. "You look at 600 and it's hard to just ignore it. You see it up on the scoreboard, you see fans talking about it . . . but 600 is not the end of the season or the end of my career. I'm going to use it kind of like first base: You want to just go right through it and really just use it as a springboard for good things to come."
A-Rod's home run made a winner of CC Sabathia (10-3) and provided great relief to Jorge Posada, who had committed a key passed ball in the eighth inning as the Mariners rallied from a 2-0 deficit.
The Yankees scored in the first inning on Mark Teixeira's groundout and in the fourth on Robinson Cano's 16th home run, but that was all they could manage in Mariners starter Ryan Rowland-Smith's six innings.
Sabathia, who has won his last six starts, took a shutout into the eighth. The Mariners had runners on first and second with two outs when Posada allowed a very catchable 2-and-1 slider to Russell Branyan to pop off his glove and to the backstop as both runners advanced.
"It just really backed up on me," Posada said. "No excuses. I just missed it."
Branyan followed by lining the next pitch into rightfield for a tying two-run single, although the Yankees caught him trying to go to second on the hit.
In the eighth, Teixeira (12-game hitting streak) singled with one out before A-Rod parked an 0-and-1 pitch over the leaping Ichiro Suzuki a few rows deep in the rightfield stands to make his teammates happy.
"I was the happiest," Posada said. Even though the game wasn't over yet.